That Girl from Budapest! – Interview with Anita Nemes graphic artist

“That Girl from Budapest!” – Anita Nemes has been called that girl whenever her art came to focus. The Hungarian capital is always in her heart, however she tenses her bounds and take different types of jobs as well. We interviewed the graphic- typographer- illustrator in her Budapest home about her art and the Art Week.

This is the home of an artist would be the sentence people said if they had to chance to see Anita’s home. From the balcony there is a breathtaking view for Gellert hill that makes the artist’s place an even more outstanding experience. Letters, typography pictures and Anita’s Budapest themed prints everywhere; there is something visually impressive and exciting waits for the visitors in every corner. During the interview Anita’s cat also pays a visit.

What is the name of the cat?

 Gagarin. We called him that because he is ginger and he once flown. He was a “fresh” cat then, we found him not long ago. He once jumped and flown in the air, when I shouted that “Fuck, he is like an astronaut!”. So he got the name Gagarin.

Looking at your apartment it is obvious that you are obsessed with Budapest. How did you create the series?

 Once I saw György Konecsi’s Budapest Spa City painting and I posted it in Facebook that ”Someone buy this for me”. An old classmate replied and asked why I don’t do it myself in my version. As I did not have the money for the original one I ended up creating my own. I started looking for spas in Budapest and drew sketches. I wanted something different than the original but I wanted to use the same colours. That’s when I started using the linear graphic style, which solved the problem; I managed to create classicism, art deco and minimal modernism on the sheet while creating something tasteful.  The linear graphic style became my style, which created a system like a city map. I would love to bring back home as many statues and buildings from different cities, but it is not possible, so this is how I solved it. This is how I can see them again.

Practically this is how you made it to the scene.

 After all this I created another series, which was about the old neon lamps of Budapest, then from these relatively unfinished things created an exhibition in the Tat Gallery. Zita Printás Majoros attended the event that saw the pictures and then we started working together. By this time I did the city pictures on purpose, I created whatever idea I had.

After Printa there was no stop then.

 Luckily the pictures I made for them were successful and this is how the Budapest series was definitive. I found one of my old customers who I could edit a publication for. She said how overhyped Budapest is right now and we should do a colouring book with a similar theme, as an illustrator this was a huge challenge and also a big deal for my career. The colouring book brought me amazing opportunities, museum called that they would like to stock my products and the National Gallery also contacted me that they need a Budapest collection. This is how I met Viola Varga who we could work together very well. We created the Barangoló, I think the very first but not the last piece. At the moment we are working on the Kiscelli Museum version.

How did you get in touch with Budapest Art Week?

 On the Nyitott Műtermek (Open Galleries) tea afternoon I met Linda Bérczi who is head organiser of the event and also creator of the Art Week. She was interested in my Budapest works and she liked them. I mentioned to her that I also edit publications and then we worked together on a different project. She first asked if I would like to do a size A3, 50 piece limited edition series where the Art Week style would meet my own style. This is a really good gift idea mainly if you would like to surprise someone with something arty. Later Linda asked if I could undertake the editing of all the Art Week publications, posters and everything else for the event. I was looking forward for this job, because it required creativity and it is relaxing sometimes! (laugh). Honestly, I love these jobs too!

How do you start creating? For example with the Art Week, how did you start planning?

 Usually I have a view in my brain. Right now it’s a picture with the most famous museums in Budapest in one axis and the people are on the two sides. I often go to certain places and organise pictures from the Internet, however I prefer the first one, because sometimes I cannot find anything I like on the Internet. I like taking photos, collecting pieces together, then lying on my stomach and draw. It is not like I can do it digitally straightaway, first I always need to sketch by hand, then it goes to the computer and then printing.

I can see the very small details in your pictures and that it is important to you.

 Although the drawings are very big, the details are important for me, for example how many pillars a museum has. I like to be real even though the pictures are all stylized. It makes my job harder because you can have fun with it. I think I bring the importance of details from typography; I always like to be precise.

Typography, publishing, graphics… Can you prioritise? Which one is you really?

 I studied typography on MOME, but I consider myself as an autodidact. No one considered me as a graphic artist, thankfully I am very ambitious and this is how I became a graphic artist. At the beginning I did publishing, then typography then I was a graphic designer. Only after all this and the Fress Budapest! dared to call myself an illustrator.

Do you admire or consider anyone as your master?

I am always embarrassed when I am asked this, because there are so many thing I like and I think it can be seen on my pictures. There is no one specific, only the different styles. First I started art deco after the influence of an American painter, Tamara de Lempicka, who painted a very strong superficial world but how she did it was amazing. Later came the more simple things, I am obsessed with Russian avant-garde, the Bauhaus, the modernism, the functionalism, but I am also a fan of architecture.

 He is not my favourite painter, but I love Csontváry’s art. The craziness and desperation he had is very moving and I can see similarities between his and my art. He was also an autodidact who worked as a pharmacist while I was a simple secretary and I started a whole new career. I know that people think Csontváry was crazy but I do not think he was.

Is there a job you really want?

 Everything I have now. Finally jobs found me that I love. I really missed the breaks, which is why I am so happy for the Art Week job. I love the rest because I can work with people who are also artists or they are also obsessed with art like me, but I love the National Gallery or the Kiscelli Barangoló as well. It is especially good that I can play around in the Kiscelli, people can go there any time, and no one will stop them. I even managed to sound the siren. That place is a miracle; it is always good I can spend time with kind and emotional people


Melis Dóra  |   2017/10/04
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